Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway | Sandhills Motel & Glidden Canoe Rental

Posted by on Nov 19, 2013 in Blog | Comments Off on Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway | Sandhills Motel & Glidden Canoe Rental

Are you looking for a beautiful getaway? Do you enjoy scenic road trips that journey off the beaten path? If you answered yes, then a trip down the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway just might be the perfect Nebraska vacation for you! The Nebraska Sandhills are home to gorgeous scenery and an ever-changing landscape, and with plenty to see and do along the way, this is one road trip that you do not want to miss!

Nebraska’s Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway is a beautiful drive and a great way to experience the natural beauty that Nebraska offers. The Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway is a 272 mile stretch of highway that takes you through the 20,000 square mile Sandhills region of Nebraska. Named one of the ten most scenic routes in the nation, the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway has also been listed as one of the highways to drive in 1,000 Places to see before you die.

While traveling through the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway, you will have the opportunity to visit many of the friendly communities and small towns that make up this region of Nebraska. Be sure to plan a little extra time during your journey to get out of the vehicle to stretch your legs and enjoy some of the rich history offered by these towns along the way!

While driving through the byway a few stops you won’t want to miss at the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway are:

Nebraska National Forest- Almost like a timbered oasis, the Nebraska National Forest offers nearly 150,000 acres of wooded valleys and hills among the prairies of Nebraska. The Sandhills Scenic Byway will take you through the 90,000 acre Bessey Ranger District of the Nebraska National Forest and offers great opportunities for camping, hiking, and picnicking during your journey!

Stuhr Museum- The Stuhr Museum in Grand Island offers a hands-on experience and glimpse in to the history of pioneer life in Nebraska. Nationally recognized as an educational and cultural institution, the Stuhr Museum provides a closer look at how life on the prairies of Nebraska evolved through the years. Don’t forget to visit the Gus Fonner Memorial Rotunda during your visit!

Dobby’s Frontier Town- This is a fun little western town that the whole family will enjoy. It is a fun antique village that is a completely hands-on experience for  you and your family. The small western town has an authentic general store, post  office, jail, and more. This friendly little town is located just outside of Alliance.

Carhenge- This is a must see attraction while you are traveling through Nebraska. Located near Alliance, Carhenge is formed from vintage American automobiles that have been painted to replicate Stonehenge in England. Carhenge is a unique, fun, and quirky attraction to visit during your trip down the Sandhills Scenic Byway.

If you have questions about planning a Nebraska Vacation or would like some more information about travelling the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway, don’t hesitate to call your friends here at the Sandhills Motel & Glidden Canoe Rental. We are conveniently located along the scenic byway and offer comfortable lodging and accommodations including Direct TV, guest laundry facilities, RV hookups, and telephones. In addition to our friendly hotel, we also offer guided bird watching tours, canoe rentals and trips, and pehaps the greatest Sandhills adventure, river tanking!

Our retreat is a great location to stop at and take in the scenery that Nebraska has to offer. You’ll find us located on the west side of Mullen, Nebraska, a small town of 500 people in the west central part of the state. Take in the remote landscape and historic towns as you travel on Highway 2, the designated Sandhills Scenic Byway, and be sure to ask about our river adventure trips, bird watching tours, and other activities available during your visit.

For more information visit us online at or call 1 (888) 278-6167 or (308) 546-2206.


Winter Activities in Nebraska | The Sandhills Motel and Glidden Canoe Rental

Posted by on Oct 22, 2013 in Blog | Comments Off on Winter Activities in Nebraska | The Sandhills Motel and Glidden Canoe Rental

The temperatures may be cooling down and the leaves are changing color, but Nebraska is full of activities to keep you busy through the fall and winter months ahead. If you are thinking about a winter getaway, look no further than the Sandhills Motel and Glidden Canoe Rental.

Come relax at The Sandhills Motel and Glidden Canoe Rental in Mullen, Nebraska after your winter adventures in the Sandhills region of Nebraska. All of our rooms offer DirecTV, telephones, and guest laundry, and we also offer full RV hookups. We are here to help you relax and enjoy what Nebraska has to offer, and if you happen to be in the area during the winter months, here are a few of our favorite activities to enjoy in the snow:

Fishing- Winter in Nebraska is the best time to try ice fishing. Rainbow trout are a popular catch in the fall because the lakes are stocked in the fall. Nebraska lakes make it relaxing for ice fishing. Other fish that are popular to catch in our Nebraska lakes are largemouth bass, crappie, and bluegill.

Hunting-Hunting is another fun winter activity to do in Nebraska. Whitetail deer, mule deer, and prong-horn antelope are seen more in Nebraska now. Several trophy deer are taken each year from Nebraska.

Stock Tanking- Stock tanking is fun for everyone. The tank is between seven to nine feet. The tanks are designed for people who prefer to stay dry. The tank is safe and relaxing for an adventure down the river. You can choose between a two hour and a five hour tank trip. Enjoy a relaxing trip floating down the Middle Loup River. River adventures also include a shuttle to and from the river, equipment, and life jackets.

One popular event that guests and residents of this part of Nebraska look forward to each year is the Polar Bear Tank race, a fundraiser for Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway which goes from February 28th to March 1st. Registration is based on a first come first serve basis for teams interested in racing down the Middle Loup River in a stock tank. Teams are encouraged to dress up in costumes with themes for their entries. There is a reception that follows after the race that includes a cook-off and an Awards Banquet.

Bird Watching- This is a must see Nebraska attraction. You can participate in viewing a ‘grassland dance,’ which are rituals between the Sharptail Grouse and the Prairie Chickens. The Sandhills Motel and Glidden Canoe Rental have been presenting the Grassland Dance since 2001. The dance itself is presented on special grounds that are known as a “lek.” The male birds gather on the lek to claim their territory, they intimidate their rivals, and attract the hens. The Sharptail species are known for its frenetic performances. The Prairie Chickens have rapid foot stomping and leap into the air. An expert on Sharptail Grouse and Prairie Chicken mating will be on-site to answer any questions.

Come enjoy some fun winter activities with your family. The accommodations at Sandhills Motel and Glidden Canoe Rental are sure to exceed your expectations. With 19 recently renovated rooms for your comfort, we are open 24 hours for your convenience. We are also happy to help assist you in planning activities for your stay. For more information visit our website at or call us at (308) 546-2206 or 1 (888) 278-6167. We are here to make your winter adventure memorable.

Visit our Family Friendly Campsite: Tips for Camping with Kids

Posted by on Sep 23, 2013 in Blog | Comments Off on Visit our Family Friendly Campsite: Tips for Camping with Kids

Going on a camping trip with your children is a great opportunity for your family to spend some quality time together without the everyday life stress that can occur.  We have a great, family friendly campsite located west of Mullen, Nebraska. Here are some tips for camping with kids:

Get the Kids Involved

A great tip for camping with kids is to let the kids be part of some of the decision making regarding activities, food, and sights. Build their excitement and anticipation. Get the maps out and talk about where you would like to go, and let the older kids be in charge of their own packing (make sure to supervise it so essential items don’t get left behind). Once arriving to the campsite, have everyone help out with pitching the tents or getting the camper situated. Our family friendly campsite has beautifully located, designated areas for RV’s and tents.

Fun Gear

Your children will love playing with headlamps, flashlights, and glow sticks after dark. They will make walking around at night safer, and provide light for reading or playing games in the tent. Putting glow stick bracelets and necklaces on your younger ones makes it easier for you to keep track of them when darkness falls.

Easy Meals

Campfire cooking is a great activity to involve your kids in and it requires minimal work if you’re properly prepared. Hot dogs, burgers, and s’mores are easy and effortless to make. Prepare for your trip by chopping vegetables, mixing pancake batter, and make meat marinades and store in glass jars or Tupperware containers. Store the items in a cooler and they will be good for almost a week! Don’t be afraid to experiment with different foods to grill – pineapple, peaches, and plums all taste great to grill. Bring long grilling forks so older kids can take part in the grilling.

Safety First

Statistically, kids are not more likely to get injured while camping than they are at home, but it is never wrong to be precautious. Pack a first aid kit along with any medications you or your family may need. Walk around the campsite together to get familiar with the area and establish strict ground rules and safety boundaries. Point out landmarks that are easily recognizable and instruct your children what to do if they get lost. Point out dangerous plants such as poison ivy and explain to your kids that they are not allowed to feed or touch wild animals. Also make sure to inspect your children for ticks and bug bites several times a day. Insect repellant and sunscreens are a must to pack!

Boredom Busters

In today’s world, where iPads, Videogames, and cellphones seem to be part of the necessities needed to survive, kids might claim that they are bored on your camping trip. Remind them that camping is an excellent way of discovering nature and encourage them to join in games such as tag, soccer, and catch. You can also prepare by bringing a deck of cards, board games, books, balls, and squirt guns. Send your kids out on a scavenger hunt for items such as pine cones, rocks, sticks, a picture of a certain flower or an anthill etc. and award a small prize to the winner. Take the time to enjoy nature with your kids. Experience the sounds, views, and wildlife – let go of any stress and just have a fun, relaxing time!


Reserve your visit today and find yourself soon soaking in the beauty of the Sandhills Region of Nebraska. Rest and relax, all while experiencing the splendor and excitement that nature has to offer from the best of Nebraska vacation sites. Call us today at 1 (888) 278-6167 to book your unforgettable getaway in the Nebraska Sandhills.

Yummy Campsite Recipes for Hungry Campers

Posted by on Sep 13, 2013 in Blog | Comments Off on Yummy Campsite Recipes for Hungry Campers


Are soggy sandwiches and baked beans what comes to mind when thinking about campsite food? Just because you’re camping, doesn’t mean you can’t have a delicious variety of food that is also surprisingly easy to take with you. These delicious campsite recipes are easy to follow and will taste yummy after a long day of fun in the sun!

Coffee Cake Pancakes

This mix requires water and an egg to complete the recipe. If you don’t want to carry eggs, we suggest you bring an egg substitute like egg beaters or powdered eggs, pre-measured. Another option is to use a backpacking mix, which would just require water to mix up.

Krusteaz Cinnamon Crumb Cake Mix (or another mix, if you like)

1 egg

2/3 c water

1.    Mix up the batter as directed on the box. It is quite a bit thicker than pancake batter, yielding different (and delicious) results. 

2.    Drop some batter on a greased (butter-flavored Pam is a good option) griddle set to medium heat, like a pancake, making sure to spread it out with a spatula. 

3.    Sprinkle a liberal amount of the crumb topping on the top of the pancake. Do not pre-mix it with the batter, this will make your pancakes burn. 

4.    Allow to cook for a couple of minutes, checking until the bottom is golden brown and the crumb topping has sunk into the pancake. 

5.    When it is mostly cooked through, flip the pancake to cook on the opposite side for a short amount of time, checking frequently. The crumb topping will make this side brown quickly. 

6.    Once the pancake is cooked, enjoy a crumbly, cake-like creation, which can be eaten plain or dressed up however you like.  

Chili Lime Corn on the Cob

Here is the slightly adapted recipe from Guy Fieri, avid cook and camper, of food network fame.

4  tablespoons  butter, at room temperature

1  teaspoon  finely shredded lime zest

1  tablespoon lime juice

1  teaspoon  chili powder

1/2  teaspoon  salt, plus more for sprinkling

 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper

1/4  teaspoon  granulated garlic

 6  ears sweet corn

1.    At home: Combine butter, zest, chili powder, salt, pepper, and garlic in a small resealable plastic bag. Mush around to combine thoroughly. Chill until ready to use, then bring to room temperature.

2.    At home or campsite: Pull back husk from each ear without detaching from bottom of cob. Remove as much silk as possible and fold husk back over ears. Soak ears in water for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour. 

3.    At home or campsite: Drain ears, open husks, dry ears with paper towels, and spread evenly with butter mixture. Fold husks back over ears and tie in place with kitchen string or strips of husk. Corn can be kept at this point, chilled, up to 24 hours. 

4.    At campsite: Prepare grill for indirect medium heat (350° to 450°; you can hold your hand 5 in. above cooking grate only 5 to 7 seconds). If using charcoal, bank coals evenly on opposite sides of the firegrate, leaving a cooler center section; if using gas, turn all burners to high, close lid, and heat 10 minutes. Then turn off one burner and lower others to medium. Grill corn over cooler spot, covered, until tender and charred, 20 minutes. Serve with salt for sprinkling.

The Best in Nebraska Fishing: We’re in the Heart of Fish Country

Posted by on Jul 10, 2013 in Blog | Comments Off on The Best in Nebraska Fishing: We’re in the Heart of Fish Country

Aquatic Adventures in Nebraska

So, you want to go fishing in Nebraska. Hold on a minute- I have a quick question. What’s the most biodiverse ecosystem on the planet? You’ve probably got specific images popping up in your head as you read that question: a Costa Rican rainforest, lush with greenery; or perhaps a steamy African jungle. And of course, you couldn’t be blamed for the assumption. But the most diverse land on earth is actually the Great Plains.

Wait, what?

Oh yes, indeed. Taking into account all the mammals, birds, fish, insects, and microorganisms in the soil, the Great Plains abound with a variety of life hardly matched across the globe. This fact is actually a major part of why farming works so well in the Midwest, including Nebraska.

By experience, we know that the Great Plains, through both nature and engineering, offers some of the best game fishing on the planet. If you’re considering fishing in Nebraska, you’ll want to strongly consider the Sandhills region. It’s a hotbed of bioactivity, located in the sweet spot of the main North American migratory corridor. Famous, of course, for the Sandhill Crane migration, it’s also along the way of many other species’ journeys. Birds choose this area for a reason- there’s a plethora of nesting and feeding sites; and when you’re halfway through a trip from Canada to the Equator, you preferably want a motel and buffet.

But why is this important? Simply because healthy ecosystems deliver amazing outdoor adventures for us humans. Camping in Nebraska couldn’t be an easier choice- a vibrant food chain means more bugs, more fish, and more birds. To take advantage of this bountiful cycle, all you need is a vehicle, a place to sleep, fishing poles, gear… and, of course, a Nebraska fishing license.

Located in Mullen, Nebraska, Sandhills Motel is at the center of the Nebraska Fishing experience. Take your pick- want to cast your line into the Dismal, South-Middle-North Loup, Niobrara, North-South Platte Rivers; or perhaps Merrit Reservoir or Lake McConaughy? All offer spectacular, unspoiled fishing experiences and peaceful, verdant scenery.

Another plus to camping in Nebraska- or fishing –is that many campgrounds and fishing areas aren’t as crowded as in other states. This is by no means a negative reflection on the area; it just means word hasn’t gotten out yet. And trust me, it’s getting out. Both traditional and fly-fishers are making more and more trips annually to Nebraska, and especially the western part of the state.

In addition to camping and fishing, Nebraska offers some of the best biking, kayaking, hiking, birding, and hunting adventures on the continent. Whether you’re a lifelong explorer, or have been cooped up in the urban jungle for too long and need to reconnect, Sandhills Motel offers peace and sanctuary in the heart of a vibrant Great Plains ecosystem.

Ask anyone who’s been here- sometimes, all you need is the sky above you, the fresh air around you, and the grass and water below you.

Kayak and Canoe on a Nebraska River Vacation

Posted by on May 15, 2013 in Blog | Comments Off on Kayak and Canoe on a Nebraska River Vacation

Even though the state is landlocked—surrounded on its borders by South Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming—Nebraska claims to have more miles of river than any other state. How many? There are approximately 12,370 miles within state lines, according to studies conducted by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. 300 miles of these flowing Nebraska waters belong to the Missouri River alone, which makes up the states eastern border with South Dakota, Iowa, and Missouri.

nebraska river vacation map

But the Missouri River is only the largest of these natural, flowing watercourses. There are 35+ other rivers and tributaries in the great state of Nebraska, providing both natural habitats for flora and fauna and recreational hotspots for residents and tourists of the human affiliation.

The Nebraska River Vacation

Hawaii and Florida have their sandy beaches. Colorado, Idaho, and Montana have their snowy mountain resorts for ski bunnies. However, when you’re looking to indulge in an open-air, river vacation, Nebraska is where you want to be. Outdoor sportsmen and sportswomen with a penchant for river-based gear—the kayak, the canoe, the fishing pole, etc.—will find the peace and solitude of a natural environment paired with their favorite brand of adventure, all bundled up in a thrilling Nebraska river vacation.

Nebraska Canoe Trips

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has designated a number of its rivers as prime for the Nebraska canoe adventure. The Dismal River, the Calamus River, the North Loop, and the Cedar are all centrally-located, gently flowing waterways that are ideal for families learning to conduct an un-motorized watercraft for the first time.

Nebraska Kayak Trips

The kayak allows for swifter and more agile movement while requiring the sole propelling effort of the independent rider. Nebraska kayak trips can challenge you with tumultuous rivers at certain times of year, and then become easier, more relaxing, adventures during others. Springtime Nebraska kayak excursions tend to run more dangerous than during the summer, when the consistently increasing water flow has cleared away many dangers and obstructions.

nebraska kayak scene

When you’re planning your Nebraska river vacation, determine which of the two trip types—Nebraska kayak or Nebraska canoe—is right for your crew. Once this has been resolved, it’s time to pick a destination!

The Sandhills Motel and Glidden Canoe Rental offers both canoe and kayak watercraft rentals, as well as the opportunity to float the river in a stock tank for the most relaxing river experience. In addition, this river vacation destination is located in the beautiful Sandhills region of central Nebraska, right along the Dismal and Middle Loup Rivers—perfect waterways for kayaks and canoes. Find out more…

Your vacation planning is complete with the Sandhills Motel. Ride the river by day, and enjoy the comforts of idyllic Nebraska lodging by night. You can rent a room or pull up an RV—amenities abound! When you’re not taking advantage of the beautiful Nebraska riverside, take a dip in the pool or head out to spot some wildlife—the Sandhills have some of the best bird watching around!

Tanking in Nebraska: the Best in Stock Tank Floating

Posted by on May 10, 2013 in Blog | Comments Off on Tanking in Nebraska: the Best in Stock Tank Floating

They come from miles around, streaming in from the hectic, high-strung nature of their everyday lives to relax and float down one or more of Nebraska’s many winding rivers. From the Niobrara and the Dismal, to the Middle Loup and the Calamus, Nebraska tanking is full of sun, fun, and floating. It’s just the ticket for those in need of a little downtime. After all, what can’t a good river float cure? When you’re looking for a break from it all—a little rest and relaxation to soothe your nerves and revive your energy—it might just be the lazy twists and turns of tanking a Nebraska river and the beautiful scenery unfolding around every bend that can deliver the idyllic vacation you’ve been dreaming of.

Tanking the River in Nebraska

The Sandhills region in central Nebraska is one of the prime locations in the state for floating of all shapes and sizes: inner tubes, inflatable chairs, multi-ride float stations, etc. However, the Sandhills Motel is a widely popular Nebraska tanking site situated along the Dismal River and the Middle Loup River. With one visit, you’ll understand how and why this destination has made a special name for itself as the best in stock tank floating.

What is stock tank floating? This popular river float option begins with a stock tank—a container commonly used in the Nebraska region to supply drinking water to livestock or horses. These tanks are typically made of steel, ranging in size anywhere from 30 gallons to 1500 gallons. For farm and ranch animals, the stock tank is designed to be watertight, keeping essential fluids stored for ranging herds. On the river, this same impermeable quality is what keeps water in and creates an ideal vessel for a fun and safe river float. How safe is it?

Stock Tank Floating Safety

Like we said, the stock tank is watertight, so you won’t find yourself bailing out halfway through your relaxing river float. Likewise, some potential river floaters might worry about the water levels and currents of these Nebraska waterways. Rest assured; the Dismal and Middle Loup Rivers of the Sandhills region don’t vary much in volume and velocity. Why? Because these rivers are not subject to snowpack melt and runoff. The Dismal and the Middle Loup are regulated by the Ogallala Aquifer beneath the surface. In addition, their location in a terrain dominated by sandy soil means that extra precipitation is soaked up like a sponge.

Some might say that if you haven’t experienced tanking a Nebraska river, then you haven’t really lived. At the Sandhills Motel in Mullen, Nebraska, we won’t go that far…but we will tell you that a good river float in a repurposed stock tank is an experience you won’t regret! Imagine a Nebraska tanking vacation dominated by quality fun and even higher quality company. Floating is all about relaxing and taking in the scenery, but it’s also a social event.

Come to the Sandhills of central and give stock tank floating a try. You’ll leave ready to start planning your trip for next year!

Simple Tips for Novice Bird Watching

Posted by on Apr 30, 2013 in Blog | Comments Off on Simple Tips for Novice Bird Watching

Nebraska is a vast and welcoming habitat to a remarkable quantity of unique and distinct bird species. From waterfowl and wading birds of Nebraska’s lakes and rivers, to an extensive and varied collection of songbirds, game birds, swifts, raptors, and nighthawks, there exists a highly developed identification system to aid bird watchers in the recognition of specific bird species.

Bird watching is a recreational activity that can be enjoyed at many levels. While advanced bird watchers might carry a collection of expensive equipment—binoculars, photography apparatus, bird calls, etc.—along with them when they embark on a bird watching mission, the first or second time bird watcher need only a simple bird identification guide book, or perhaps these simple tips for novice birding from the Sandhills Motel and Glidden Canoe Rental.


Field marks are very specific details about the bird’s appearance—such as plumage, eye-rings, or breast—that can distinguish between two or three very similar species of birds. Leave the field marks and the very finite identifications for the experienced bird watching professionals. For the novice bird watcher, try sticking to simple detection of larger bird groups. You can slowly work your way into more detailed classification as your skills progress.

Since we’re starting with the basics, the following four keys can help the novice bird watcher to break into the activity at a slow and steady pace:

1. Habitat. Habitat is one of the easiest and most observable keys to visual identification. After all, you can ascertain the habitat of a bird watching mission before even spotting a bird for identification. Make a thorough description of your habitat before you really begin hunting for the birds that live within it. Bird habitats range anywhere from woodlands, prairies, and marshes, to orchards, city parks, and tree-lined suburban areas.
2. Behavior. You’ve spotted your first bird from a distance, but you’re still too far to notice up close details. Therefore, ask yourself: does it flit solo from tree to tree, or does it fly high in a migratory flock? Does it feed on the ground like a Nebraska prairie chicken, or does it catch insects from the water? Another enjoyable bird trait: does it sing? Each of these questions is important to consider. Jot them down as soon as you observe each little distinctive behavioral trait.
3. Size & Shape. If you’re able to track your bird and zero in at a closer distance, you can begin identifying sizes and distinctive shapes. Some bird groups have tiny bodies and large heads. Others are large, with straight bills and curved crests, or flat-headed with a notched tail. Take note of the defining sizes and shapes that make up the general composition of the bird you’ve sighted.
4. Colors & Pattern. While out birding in the field, one of the joys of bird watching is in the brilliant colors they often display. However, specific colors and patterns can be difficult to ascertain unless you’re able to get a relatively close look. If you can do just that, there’s nothing quite like the striking blue of a Jay or the brilliant red cap of certain types of woodpeckers. Try to identify colors in the birds plumage while taking special notice of patterns, such as stripes, color blocking, speckles, or spots.

Progressing through this list of simple keys for visual identification can help you slowly break into the exciting world of bird watching. Our number one tip for novice birding? Start slow and don’t hold yourself to the high standards of experienced bird watchers. After all, one of the greatest benefits derived from a bird watching excursion is the opportunity to immerse oneself in nature and find simple joy hidden in the environment.

The Sandhills Motel and Glidden Canoe rental is a premium bird watching location in the Sandhills of central Nebraska. Bird watching beginners will love introducing themselves into the activity with a guided viewing of our native Sharptail Grouse and Prairie Chicken mating rituals. To learn more, click here.

Native Birds of the Nebraska Sandhills

Posted by on Apr 16, 2013 in Blog | Comments Off on Native Birds of the Nebraska Sandhills

The Sandhills of north-central Nebraska are a sprawling division of prairie and grass-supported sand dunes that cover one-fourth of the state’s comprehensive land area. This strip of scenic countryside is also a popular pit-stop of the Central Flyway, a bird migration route that cuts through the Great Plains of the United States. For various species of migratory birds, the Sandhills provide a rich region full of natural bodies of water—places to rest during long seasonal trips both north and south. Popular native birds of Nebraska are also commonly spotted in the prairie dunes of the Sandhills, a prime location for bird watching.

However, there are a handful of native bird species that can be found year-round in the Nebraska Sandhills, such as the Western Meadowlark. Also the state bird of Nebraska, the Western Meadowlark makes its home is these prairies, because grasslands and open fields are its first choice for a breeding habitat.

Spotting a Western Meadowlark is quite simple when the bird watcher knows what he/she is looking—or listening—for. First of all, behavioral traits include foraging the ground for insects, seeds, and berries, while the warbled flute sound of their bird call signals their presence to the discerning ear. Once close enough to take in the details of the birds shape, size, color, and patterns, you’ll notice a yellow underbelly and white sides that are striped with black.

The Sharp-tailed Grouse is yet another native bird of the Nebraska Sandhills that takes to the short and mid-length grasslands of the Great Plains to fulfill its very specific habitat needs. In fact, this species of grouse was originally referred to as a “fire bird” due to the necessity of grass fires for preserving their ideal habitat.

Behaviorally, the Sharp-tailed Grouse is most easily spotted during mating season due to the very theatrical nature of its courtship dance ritual—a “must-see” in the world of bird watching. To learn more about this fascinating mating dance, click here.

Like the Western Meadowlark, the males of this grouse species are easily identified by a splash of yellow color on a body of mostly brown and white feather patterns. However, this bird’s yellow feathers are found on the top of its head—instead of the underbelly—and accompanied by violet plumage on the side of its head and neck. Females have less distinctive coloration, but tend to mimic their male counterpart’s appearance in most other aspects.

The third common bird species to keep an eye out for on the Nebraska Sandhills prairie is the Greater Prairie Chicken, a territorial bird that forgoes migration in order to stick around and protect its stomping grounds. Greater Prairie Chickens are stocky birds with round wings—males have a yellow comb and orange neck patch, while females lack this distinctive coloration.

All three of the Nebraska Sandhills native birds described above are a sight to behold. However, the Greater Prairie Chicken is the only one that has spent that last century or so toeing the line between thriving populations and the endangered species list. The biggest threat to the Greater Prairie Chicken? The loss of their natural grassland habitats due to the spread of cropland.

Special bird watching locations, like the Sandhills Motel and Glidden Canoe Rental, work to preserve the natural habitats of these extraordinary native birds of the Nebraska Sandhills. Our prairie grasslands and sprawling sand hills allow these birds to feed, mate, and reproduce in an ecosystem fit for their special needs. The native birds of the Nebraska Sandhills are unique and worth a special trip for avid bird watching beginners and experts across the nation.

Bird Watching as a Social Event

Posted by on Mar 15, 2013 in Blog | Comments Off on Bird Watching as a Social Event

Nothing forges close human relationships quite like the share of mutual bonds and interests. You know what they say: “birds of a feather flock together.”

If your feather—or interest—happens to be bird watching, there’s no reason why this recreational pastime must be enjoyed as a solo adventure. There are approximately 60 million people in the world who bird watch for sport, and a vast majority of that 60 million live right here in the U.S.

What’s more? The fast growing popularity of bird watching has spurred year-round birding events held nationwide. For instance, the Olympic BirdFest is coming up this April 2013 in Washington state, followed closely by Featherfest in Galveston, TX, the 2013 Point Reyes Nature & Birding Festival in California, the International Migratory Bird Day held in Boulder, CO, the Acadia Birding Festival held in the state of Maine, and much, much more! To find birding social events in your home state, visit

A birding festival, fair, conference, tour, etc. provides the perfect opportunity for bird watchers to forge likeminded acquaintanceships with those who share in their passion for birding. While some might enjoy the peace and solitude of this nature entrenched activity, the benefits of birding together carry a weight of their own. For instance, consider the following:

EYES. Four eyes are better than two, six eyes are better than four, eight eyes are….well, you get the point. The more spotters you take to popular bird watching destinations, the greater quantity and variety of avian species you’re likely to spot.

APPARATUS. Those who share a passion are likely to also share their equipment. With a wide variety of binoculars, spotting scopes, and field guides on the market, birding with friends might allow you to try out a wider range of bird watching tools and apparatus.

TIPS. Whether you’re the most experience bird watcher in the group or a newcomer to the hobby, those with a wealth of birding knowledge can transfer what they know to their colleagues. When you share your tips with the group, the whole crew benefits together.

ECO. We all understand the benefit of sharing a vehicle to reach a mutual destination. Car pooling means reducing the amount of gas it takes to relocate your group to your preferred bird watching destinations.

CAMARADERIE. Why not share your love of birding with someone who understands? As mentioned earlier, nothing contributes to lasting friendships like shared hobbies and interests…

Starting a birding group is not as difficult as it might sound. All it takes is attending an event of the likes mentioned above, registering for social bird watching tours, starting a conversation with someone you meet out in the field, or fostering connections with birders in your area via an online forum. As another alternative, you can always look into joining a birding group already established in your area. At, established clubs are listed by state.

Once you’ve joined or formed a birding group or club, it’s time to start enjoying the benefits of birding as a social event. Most clubs will plan group bird watching tours to popular birding watching destinations both near and far from home. To schedule a group visit for an exciting showing of the “Grassland Dance” performed by the Nebraska native Sharptail Grouse and Prairie Chicken, contact the Sandhills Motel and Glidden Canoe Rental today.

Group Reservations: (308) 546-2206 or 1 (888) 278-6167.

bird watching destinations